Legionnaires' disease outbreak in Anaheim, possible links to Disneyland

Disneyland in Anaheim, California, shut down two of its cooling towers Tuesday after Orange County health officials discovered cases of Legionnaires' disease in several people who had visited the theme park in the last two months.

A dozen cases of the bacterial illness were discovered approximately three weeks ago, the Orange County Health Care Agency confirmed to The Associated Press. Nine of the individuals had spent time in Disneyland Park in September, the Orange County Health Care Agency told the paper, and all were aged between 52 and 94.

The disease has similar symptoms to pneumonia, including high fever, chills, and cough. "These towers were treated with chemicals that destroy the bacteria and are now shut down". The health agency said there is no ongoing risk to the public and no other cases have been reported, although they cautioned public health officials to be aware of the situation. A Disneyland employee is among those who got sick.

The bacteria often spreads though water vapor or mist, and older people or those with compromised immune systems are most susceptible.

Legionnaires' disease is essentially an extremely risky form of pneumonia caused by inhaling the freshwater Legionella bacteria, which thrives in water systems like cooling towers, fountains, and hot tubs or pools that are not treated, per the Centres for Disease Control. One of the 12, who had other health issues and did not visit Disneyland, died.

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Nine people have contracted Legionnaire's disease after visiting Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif.

The towers are near the New Orleans Square Train Station, more than 100 feet away from parts of the theme park accessible to guests, a Disneyland Resort spokeswoman said Friday, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Health officials subsequently issued an order that the towers remain shut down until they are verified to be free from contamination.

The disease can be treated with antibiotics. On Nov. 1, more testing and disinfection was performed and the towers were brought back into service on Nov. 5.


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